Medicare Annual Election Period is Almost Here

We are approaching the annual election period for Medicare plans. This period runs from October 15-December 7 this year. Plan changes made during this period will take effect on 1/1/15 and will be in place for the following calendar year of 2015.

Contrary to popular misconception, this period has nothing to do with Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans. It only applies to Medicare Part D and Medicare replacement plans like Medicare Advantage. If you have a Medigap plan, you do not have to do anything to renew your plan – it will continue automatically and is “guaranteed renewable”. This type of plan does not change annually like Medicare Advantage plans do.

However, if you do have a Medigap plan, it may be a good time to review your coverage to ensure that you have the plan that is most advantageous to you. Medigap plans are Federally-standardized, so every company provides the exact same coverage plans. It is highly likely, if you have had your plan for more than a year or two, that you are paying above market price for your Medigap premium. If you want to reevaluate your plan and compare it to what is available in your zip code, you can contact us here to get a comparison via email.

If you are on a Medigap plan with prescription drug coverage (Part D), it is also a good idea to reevaluate your Part D plan. Part D is offered on an annual contract, so these plans do change each year. Sometimes, the changes can be very significant. Also, many times, your prescription medication needs change, so it is a good idea to stay apprised of the options on Part D on an annual or bi-annual basis.

You can do this Part D comparison on Medicare’s website at http://medicare.gov. If you are one of our clients, please contact me directly as we provide this comparison as a free service for you.

If you have questions about this Medicare annual election period, please feel free to contact us at 877.506.3378 or online at Secure Medicare Solutions.

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment

South Carolina Medicare Supplement policyholders often ask me about the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period, thinking that it takes place at the end of the year (November-December). However, Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment is not a once-a-year occurrence. It occurs only when someone is turning 65 or first signing up for Medicare Part B – NOT each year on an annual basis.

In other words, you can change or add a Medicare Supplement plan at any time during the year, not just during a once-a-year period. Many people do elect to evaluate their options once a year at the end of the year; however, this is not the only time that you can do it. In fact, you are likely to get more attention from the company or broker you are dealing with if you evaluate/change plans in the middle of the year.

Many people get confused about this, in part, because South Carolina Medicare Part D does have a once-a-year Annual Election Period (AEP), and it is November 15-December 31 each year. Also, the Medicare Advantage plans, the privatized version of Medicare, do also have enrollment/disenrollment restrictions, which include a certain times of the year for you to enroll or disenroll from those plans.

Maybe the best time of all to review your South Carolina Medicare Supplements coverage is whenever your rates change. Since coverage is Federally-standardized, there is never any reason to pay more than the bottom-line price for your supplement insurance.